Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday capped a two-day stay in poll-bound Gujarat with a visit to his birthplace Vadnagar—his first since becoming prime minister—and laying the foundation stones for an array of development projects.
Healthcare and medical facilities, irrigation projects and a Rs550 crore chemical unit at Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals’s (GNFC) Bharuch facility were among projects in the prime minister’s agenda on Sunday.
Over the visit, Modi either inaugurated or laid the foundation stones for development projects worth Rs12,000 crore, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani said.
The prime minister on Saturday set the foundation for a new airport near Rajkot and infrastructure projects including roads and highways, educational institutes and a new bridge connecting Okha and Bet Dwarka.
Modi, who took out a roadshow in Vadnagar, said the visit to his birthplace has instilled fresh energy in him which he will use “to work more and make more efforts for the development of the nation than before". He said his government has come up with a health policy after a gap of 15 years—the first since the government led by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“To accelerate this policy, the current government has decided to set up one medical college for every four Lok Sabha constituencies across the country," the prime minister announced while inaugurating a medical college in Vadnagar.
He said that Vadnagar will be developed as a tourist destination. The prime minister said the government had brought down the prices of stents and is working to make healthcare affordable for the poor.
Modi laid the foundation stone of the Bhadbhut Barrage to be built over the Narmada river at a cost of Rs4,337 crore and flagged the Antyodaya Express between Udhna (Surat, Gujarat) and Jaynagar (Bihar) at Bharuch.
Addressing a public meeting in Bharuch, Modi said that the Antyodaya Express is a commendable initiative, which connects people and helps those who are from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, and work far from their home.
At GNFC’s Bharuch facility, Modi laid the foundation stone for a Rs550 crore Di-Calcium Phosphate (DCP) plant, a downstream project of GNFC, being established jointly with EcoPhos Belgium, Europe’s largest DCP producer. This plant would have a capacity of 200,000 million tonnes per annum and the products will be used for cattle feed, poultry feed and fish feed industry. They will also be exported.
Modi lauded GNFC for having taken the lead in the production of Neem-coated urea through a massive backward integration project of Neem seed collection and Neem oil production generating additional income for hundreds and thousands of women.
“Neem coating of urea has benefitted farmers and checked theft and corruption," Modi told a gathering at GNFC’s Bharuch facility.
In May 2015, the Union ministry of chemicals and fertilizers made it mandatory for all indigenous producers of urea to neem-coat the urea they produce or import. Once the urea is neem coated, it cannot be pilfered by middlemen because it is useless to chemical producers. This brings the added advantage of farmers requiring 10% less urea and the benefits from the nutritional value of neem.
“GNFC’s neem project, with an investment of Rs50 crore, has resulted in additional income generation to around 4 lakh women and rural poor in Gujarat to the tune of Rs40 crore," GNFC’ managing director Rajiv Gupta said.
Modi said that Gujarat’s efforts in animal husbandry have also helped farmers. He said he had asked the Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath to send a team to Gujarat and study the Pashu Arogya Melas (livestock fairs) held in Surat.
Modi also dedicated various manufacturing units of neem-based products to the nation, including neem soap, shampoo, handwash, pesticides and an extraction plant for producing large quantities of neem oil.